Turtledove
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Unnamed Narrator
Fictional Character
"No Period"
Fiction
Type of Appearance: 1st-person narrator
Nationality: United States of America
Religion: Judaism
Date of Birth: 20th Century
Occupation: Author of Fiction
Parents: Unnamed mother
Spouse: Unnamed first wife
Unnamed second wife
Children: Unnamed daughter, other unidentified children

A Jewish-American writer set out to tell a story, but instead contemplated his failed first marriage. He remembered some of his odd behaviors when he entered a new relationship, and how some of those quirks seemed silly when he tried to explain them to his now-adult daughter. Then he remembered how difficult it was at the time of the divorce to explain things to his mother, and how communication between generations wasn't easy, and yet it should have been.

Then his mind turned to how he and first wife might have made the marriage work. He thought about the choices they each made, and then concluded that the marriage was doomed in the world as is/was, so he began a thought-experiment of rewriting history. He remembered his former father-in-law was a Finn who'd flown a Fokker D.XXI during World War II. This led the writer to remember that Finland was a co-belligerent of Nazi Germany during the war, which in turn led him to wonder how things would have turned out for the marriage in world like the one in The Man in the High Castle (the writer had seen the show, but had not yet read the book). Realizing that, as a Jew, he'd have been doomed in a world where Adolf Hitler won, he reached further back in time.

He remembered that Napoleon wasn't particularly anti-Semitic, but then he remembered that his former mother-in-law's roots were in Germany, and that French troops tromping around in the region would alter his ex-wife's history.

So he turned to the Mongol invasion, and contemplated whether the Mongols staying in Central Europe would suffice. He then realized that his ancestors might not have gone east if it meant encountering the Mongols, so he jumped back to the Maccabees' revolt against the Seleucid Greeks.

He imagined what would have happened if the Seleucids won and simply crushed Judaism, and preempted the birth of Jesus. As his ex had been a lapsed Lutheran, he contemplated if he, a hypothetical Zeus-worshipper would have gotten along with her if she'd been a hypothetical Wotan-worshipper. Then he realized religion wasn't the problem between them, and that the substance of their real arguments would have been the same in this world.

He went back further, and thought about what would have happened if Homo sapiens hadn't made their way into Europe and wiped out Neanderthal. He again concluded that his ex-wife's Neanderthal analog and his analog would have had the same fights. At this point, the writer realized how silly this was, since he was perfectly happy with his wife in a marriage that had worked for forty years, but his inability to accept that he'd done anything wrong led him to one last thought-experiment.

He contemplated a world without humans altogether, where the Chicxulub asteroid missed Earth and dinosaurs evolved into sentient beings. He wondered if a male like him would have successfully mated with a female like his ex. He realized that there was no period in which he could save the first marriage, so he didn't contemplate the Cambrian Explosion.

Realizing that he was happy with his second wife, his kids, his grandkids, and his career, he finally put an end to the series of Gedankenexperimenten. However, he realized he hadn't meant to tell this story, and circled back to the beginning.[1]

References[]

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